By Olivia Kelleher
Residents of an apartment block in Cork city who have been served eviction notices so that their rental properties can undergo a €3m refurbishment say that they have been left with little choice but to live on a building site.
Occupants of the Leeside Apartments on Bachelor's Quay have written to the Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy asking for his help. They stress that there is no consideration for their human rights.
Dorata Okan told Cork's 96FM today that the situation at the apartment complex was getting worse and worse.
"Dust, dirt, damp and smell. It is absolutely horrible. My life, my family life, my neighbour's life it is absolutely stressful every day. I live on the fourth floor. The lift is not working nearly one year and I am ill. I have multiple sclerosis and very strong asthma. For me, even walking for the stairs is very hard."
Residents say that there are empty blocks in the complex where they could move to during the works.
A verdict is expected shortly from the Residential Tenancies Board over a bid by investment firm Lugus Capital to evict families and individuals from more than 20 apartments.
Cork Solidarity TD Mick Barry says the case isn't an isolated one and "it's happening in other places around the country."
About 250 people attended a rally last December in opposition to the planned eviction of renters from the apartment complex.
At the time Lugus Capital issued a statement in which it confirmed that it had acquired the apartment block in October and that it was planning to carry out a €3m refurbishment of the property.
Lugus Capital said that as part of its acquisition process, it carried out a full structural survey and fire-safety inspection and found that the apartments in the six-storey complex were not in compliance with their fire certificates.
“The refurbishment is necessary not only to bring the building up to modern standards but also to maintain the safety of the residents,” said the company, adding that it had told all residential tenants of its planned refurbishment.
The company was fully complying with the Residential Tenancies Act, 2004, in terms of issuing the eviction notices to the tenants, said Lugus Capital.
Tenants reportedly received a letter to the effect that the would be offered the opportunity to reoccupy the property once it becomes available for re-letting. However, residents fear that the rents will be substantially increased at this juncture.
The Green Party in Cork has claimed that that the renovations are a "Trojan horse" for the inevitable raising of rents.
Local representative Justin Fleming of the party attended a demonstration in relation to the apartments last year to support a friend of his, who is a tenant.
"She is a single mum who works full-time and still she barely earns enough to pay the rent they're currently asking for."